The Our World Global Television Program, June 25, 1967: McLuhan’s Idea of Global Communication as Antecedent to the Internet

The Beatles on the set of Our World prior to the program, June 25, 1967 

Well, what is called for example a generation gap today, the TV generation of kids, have a completely different set of perceptions from their parents. Their parents grew up in a visual world like the world of movies, where they have cameras and pictures and points of view. The kids have grown up in an x-ray world. The TV camera does a perpetual job of x-ray on them and they take this for granted. X-ray means depth, x-ray means participation in depth in whatever they are doing, and calls for a totally new kind of commitment to everything they are doing. That is why when they encounter situations in which they are merely classified entities as in the school room, they don’t feel wanted, they don’t feel needed, they just drop out. Now, this strange, new all-at-once situation in which everybody experiences everything all at once creates this kind of x-ray mosaic of involvement and participation for which people are just not prepared. They have lived through centuries of detachment, of non-involvement, Suddenly they are involved. So it’s a big surprise, and for many people a kind of exhilaration. Wonderful!…
– Marshall McLuhan interviewed early in the “Our World” BBC satellite international television program, June 25, 1967


By Mohammad Salemy, The New Centre for Research & Practice

Abstract: The 1960s was the decade in which satellite technology was introduced to the television world via a series of live broadcasts. With the active participation of 46 stations, BBC’s Our World (1967) was undoubtedly the most globally far-reaching of them all. Conceived around Marshall McLuhan’s concept of the communicative global village, the special program took full advantage of satellites to reach a truly global audience and use the occasion to announce the dawn of globalization and what living in a small and thoroughly connected world would mean for its inhabitants. Prominent in the broadcast was the program’s Canadian segment, which aired right after the introduction and included an interview with Marshall McLuhan in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s studio in Toronto. This paper considers McLuhan’s contributions both to the ideas and practices of planetary communication as well as his direct involvement with the production of Our World. I demonstrate how McLuhan’s understanding of the co-constitution of time and space not only set live television broadcasts apart from other temporal media but that, through these spatiotemporal affinities, One World can be considered to belong to the prehistory of our contemporary telecomputational technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones.
Please follow this link to read the full essay, plus full text of the interview of Marshall McLuhan during the event

Note: The Beatles’ performance of “All You Need is Love” had to be left out of this version of the video for copyright reasons. Here are the Beatles rehearsing the song, along with scenes of the programming control room, plus a snippet of their final performance:

About the author of the essay – Mohammad Salemy is an independent Berlin-based artist, critic and curator from Canada. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University and an MA in Critical Curatorial Studies from the University of British Columbia. He has shown his works in Ashkal Alwan’s Home Works 7 (Beirut, 2015), Witte de With (Rotterdam, 2015) and Robot Love (Eindhoven, 2018). His writings have been published in e-fluxFlash ArtThird RailBrooklyn RailOculaArts of the Working Class and Spike. Salemy’s curatorial experiment For Machine Use Only was included in the 11th edition of Gwangju Biennale (2016). Together with a changing cast, he forms the artist collective Alphabet Collection. Salemy is the Organizer at The New Centre for Research & Practice.

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